Presented at an international symposium, entitled ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man’, at The Johns Hopkins Center, Baltimore, USA, on 18th – 21stOctober 1966.

Published in The Structuralist Controversy, edited by Richard Macksay and Eugene Donato, The Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore and London), 1970. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Macksay or Donato)

Presenter: Charles Morazé

Description of Charles Morazé as in 1970

Charles Morazé: Secretary of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Charles Morazé is one of the founders of the VIe Section. He particpated in the Ford Continuing Seminars, exploring questions raised at the Symposium.

Title: Literary Invention & Discussion


Full text with all the discussion, including Jacques Lacan’s interventions, available at /Authors A-Z (Morazé) or /Authors by Date (October 1966) or /Lacan (October 1966)

As published by the École Lacanienne de la Psychanalyse / Pas-Tout Lacan or available

Lacan’s intervention

Bilingual of, p41–44 – Macksey & Donato (1970), Lacan’s intervention into the discussion is at p4 of /Lacan (92. Lacan’s 2 interventions and presentation (Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever) at the October 1966, The Language of Criticism and the Sciences of Man Conference in Baltimore)

Jacques Lacan’s intervention – p41-44 (1970)

Jacques Lacan: It is rare for a discussion to bring forward so quickly what could have remained unsettled after a presentation. Much of what there is [to discuss] has been put in its proper place. A minute ago, for example, when you were saying that as to the question of the “imaginary root,” things had been resolved very simply. You yourself brought the necessary corrective, viz., that it was a terrible drama. What it seemed to me was the essence of your communication, what it centred about, what gave it its essential character, was that you touched on the question of invention, namely: Who invents? There would be no question of invention if that were not the question. You consider this question resolved. In any case, you were very anxious to be precise about the fact that whatever the constellation, the configuration, in which you place the phenomenon we call “invention” (and which you brought into the discussion in an admirably cogent and primary way): one invents to the degree that he puts a number of signs in relationship to each other. I do not advance this argument; it is you who have restated the problem in this way. (Parenthetically I am leaving aside here something that it seems useful to me to recall concerning the use of the term “symbol,” which you seem to regret [coming from] the mouth of mathematicians, and which means only this: symbols are the relations between signs.)

But I want to keep to the heart of the matter, which is something you evidently took to be resolved from the beginning—that the man who invents is he whom you were speaking of when you spoke, a moment ago, of saveur de vivre, goût de vivre, espoir de vivre [zest for life, love of life, hope of life]. It is a question of the living being, it is the individual, the living individual. But there must still have been a question in the back of your mind, since throughout your expose that point seemed so obvious that it was almost surprising to hear you emphasize it. You explained that, in spite of all you had said about the context of the invention, it was after all the inventor who invented, who was the author of the invention, and your phrases saveur de vivre, goût de vivre, espoir de vivre, actually implied the flesh-and-blood individual. The term “disincarnated” you used, not in connection with this inventor, but in connection with the sign, the mathematical sign, which goes to show that the question of incarnation was there present in your mind, although we don’t, of course, both give it equal value. It is certain that in this domain of mathematics, which you have aptly chosen in introducing the question of invention, inventions are produced, we may say, at exactly the same time, or within a few months of each other, by subjects (I must pronounce the word sooner or later) who are at great distances (geographic or otherwise) from one another. The same phenomenon is no less observable in other fields of invention and especially in the field of literature, although here it does not evoke the same property of astonishment as in mathematics. So, here is where the question lies. In proposing the term subject in this connection, and asking that we distinguish it from your living being with all his animation (your conception of which you have clearly expressed since it is a question of that charge which does or does not attach itself to the manipulation of the signs, and which you have presented to us on the whole as an emotional charge), you have shown us that this can go even further where the apprehension of signs is involved, for example pictorial signs, whose intuitive connotations you have rightly accepted: the picturesque element counts for something in the way in which they move us more than other signs.

But, leaving the elements in this sort of relationship in which you have left them, are we not ourselves losing something essential, an approach which we must adopt in posing the question? I mean the one which might appear if we focused on the most paradoxical points. I seemed to understand you to say that it was necessary for these mathematical signs to be recharged at times. But with what? You certainly emphasised what Russell had said, after all, that in mathematics one knows neither if what one is saying is true, nor precisely of what one is speaking. In this sense, of course, and only in this sense, one can talk of a certain emptiness of the sign. In any case, one thing seemed to me certain: that the sign is not recharged with this emotional quality. This I believe is the same thing you suggested when you talked of a purely, “quantitative” energy. That must have been what you were thinking of—that it wasn’t a—let’s not call it “quantitative,” which would be really awkward but a, shall we say, “qualified,” energy.

So, if it’s not that which periodically presents us with a certain crisis in mathematics, if it is no re-charging of this kind, then the question comes up: What accounts for the passion of this mathematical crisis? What is this passion which is internal, in your admirable demonstration, to this crisis of the signs? To use your vocabulary (at least one I think you can accept, even if you are not the one who associated these exact words): What is the order of the passions around which this event will or will not occur, whatever it may be, this alogorithm, invention of a new sign or of a new alogorithm or a different organisation of some logical system? Asked in this way the question seems to show a close connection with the question posed by the introduction of the term subject as [something] distinct from the function of individuality you introduced—and it is quite normal to have done so—as essential to the question of the inventor. Is the inventor the physical person that each of us is here, facing the other, being looked at, capturing and being captured, more or less within a play of gestures? Is it something else? Or is it to the extent that we are both caught up in the system of signs which is creeping into our debate with a sort of effort at approximation, but in which all the same there is a necessary internal coherence, a logical necessity—as someone here recalled just a little while ago. It is after all true that a collective agreement does not bring about the triumph or the failure of a theory in formal mathematics. There is another sort of necessity which obtains. Only this other necessity transfers a certain charge which plays, may I say, the same role as that which we call roughly the “affective charge” [charge affective]. This seems to me very close to my immediate concern and what it seeks to elucidate: to know in what sense it is, properly speaking, concerned with the status of the subject, in so far as it is the same question as the question of the “passion of signs.” If one goes a little further in this line, one very quickly, it seems to me, comes to what could seem mysterious to M. Hyppolite in the announcement of the title of my own communication here. I am thinking of the word “in-mixing” [inmiction]**. I think that the first time I introduced this word was precisely in respect to subjects. Subjects (even the Natural History of Buflon was not so “natural” as that, may I add) are not as isolated as we think. But, on the other hand, they are not collective. They have a certain structural form, precisely “inmixing,”** which is, properly speaking, that to which a discussion such as that today can introduce us, and I think uniquely in so far as we are not so sure that he who invents is exactly he who is designated by a certain proper name.

**Inmixtion is a term used by Damourette and Pichon for the semantically different ways the subject’s participation in an event or action can be described by a verb alone or by one of the verbs “faire,” “voir,” or “laisser” plus an infinitive: e.g., “operer,” “faire operer,” “voir operer,” and “laisser operer.” See Essai de grammaire de la langue francoise 5:791-817.

Other uses of inmixtion

11th April 1956, See Seminar III The Psychoses (1955-1956) : from 16th November 1955 : Jacques Lacan, this site /4 Jacques Lacan (Index or 19551116) : p193 of Russell Grigg’s translation :

What we have encountered in this symptomatology always implies what I indicated to you last year in relation to the dream of Irma’s injection – the inmixing of subjects.

It’s characteristic of the intersubjective dimension that you have a subject in the real capable of using the signifier as such, that is, to speak, not so as to inform you, but precisely so as to lure you. This possibility is what is distinctive about the existence of the signifier. But this isn’t all. As soon as there is a subject and use of the signifier, use of the between-I [l’entre-je] is possible, that is to say, of the interposed subject. This inmixing of subjects is one of the most obvious elements in the dream of Irma’s injection. Recall the three practitioners called in one by one by Freud, who wants to know what it is that’s in Irma’s throat. And these three farcical characters operate, defend theses, talk only nonsense. They are the between-I’s, who play an essential role here.


Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever: 21st October 1966 (Baltimore, USA) : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19661018)


– A few notes on the 1966 Baltimore conference (inside and outside the conference, or better yet, the conference on a Moebius strip) : April 2022 : Richard Klein – p1-3 of /Lacan (92. Lacan’s 2 interventions and presentation (Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever) at the October 1966, The Language of Criticism and the Sciences of Man Conference in Baltimore)

– Jacques Lacan cuts between the real(ly)-symbolic (RS) & symbolic(ally)-real (SR) (a cartel ending/work-in-progress presentation) : 17th July 2019 (London) : Julia Evans. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Evans or Index of Julia Evans’ texts)


All the contributions to this symposium are published in ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man – the Structuralist Controversy’ : 1970 : Richard Macksey & Eugenio Donato (Eds). See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Macksey or Donato)